In the last post on Matthew 5:5 (you can read it here) we started to define meekness (or gentleness) as God defines it. We saw that we must be meek toward God in his will and his Word. But this is only the beginning. Our meekness must extend to humanity. We must be meek toward others. But what does meekness look like practically? In this post I’d like to give you three practical character qualities of a meek Christian.
First, showing meekness is a godly response when others hurt us.
Psalm 38:12-15 says,
Those who seek my life lay their snares;
those who seek my hurt speak of ruin
and meditate treachery all day long.
But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
I have become like a man who does not hear,
and in whose mouth are no rebukes.
But for you, O Lord, do I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. (ESV)
The meek in spirit do not rush to defend themselves when wronged; they instead wait upon the Lord. Some wrong responses when others hurt us:
1. We are a hot-head.
Eccl. 7:9, “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.”
Thomas Watson, “Meekness, like wet tinder, will not easily take fire.” This is the spirit of meekness. If you have a short fuse with your temper, this shows a lack of meekness.
Eph 4:26-27, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
Some may claim, using this verse, that anger is not a sin. Now I agree that not all anger is sin. But the anger that is not sin, is anger at sin—a holy anger. It was a holy zeal that provoked Jesus’ anger in John 2:14-17. This is not the case for the one who is hasty and selfish in his anger.
2. We are fork-tongued.
Eph 4:29-31, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
These verses speak of the sinful ways that the tongue is used and the godly responses that should take their place.
James 3:6, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”
Our tongues are the fire that is in our mouths and it is Satan that lights the match! Those that are meek do not use their tongues for striking out at those who have hurt them. As Eph 4:29 said, we are to use our tongues to build up, not tear down. This is the way of those who are meek in spirit.
Now, does anyone think that a person who can do this is weak?
Some may object that if we don’t do something to protect ourselves, then people will walk all over us and we will lose all respect in other’s eyes. But to overlook an offense done against us without reacting sinfully actually adds to the respect others have of us.
Prov. 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Second, showing meekness is forgiving those who hurt us.
Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
It has been said that a meek spirit is a forgiving spirit.
Forgiveness must be 3 things:
1. Our Forgiveness should be Actual-Not saying we forgive, while keeping a record of wrongs.
Isa 43:25 says, ““I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
Friends, God forgives us.
Jeremiah 31:34 likewise says, “And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
God forgives us! And that should make a difference in our interactions with others around us who have sinned against us, shouldn’t it?
In Matt 18:21-35, we find the scenario where Peter thought that he was being very devout when he suggested to Jesus that they forgive the sins of others against him 7 times. For sure, this was more forgiving than most religious people would have been. But it didn’t line up with grace. Jesus then told them a story about forgiveness. You should read it on your own. The conclusion? We forgive, because God forgave us!
2. Our Forgiveness should be Total-All sins against us
Ps 103:1-5 is amazing. It says,
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
God wiped out all our sins. He didn’t pass over the lesser ones and retain your guilt for the greater ones. Would you have God forgive your trespasses as you have forgiven others?
3. Our Forgiveness should be Habitual-Ongoing sin requires ongoing forgiveness on our part.
Isa 55:7 says, “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
God’s pardon of sin is abundant because our sins are abundant. The meek must likewise be constantly and abundantly pardoning sins that are done against us.
Thirdly, showing meekness is not demanding our rights.
The meek person does not make demands for his privileges, position or his status in life. Realizing that this is foreign in the world we live in, D.A. Carson paints a clear picture of the radical way living like this differs from the mainstream:
“Individually, each man tends to assume, without thinking, that he is at the center of the universe; therefore he relates poorly to the four billion others who are laboring under a similar delusion. But the meek man sees himself and all others under God. Since he is poor in spirit, he does not think more highly of himself than he ought to. Therefore he is able to relate well to others.”
Phil 2:3-8, reminds us that this command to be meek is firmly based upon the example of Christ The Christian who is meek, therefore, cannot be sensitive about himself. He can’t be always on the defensive about what others think and say about him. When a person is meek, he has come to the end of himself—he does not worry about what other people say about him.
1Pet 2:22-24 shows us the incredible strength that was evident in Jesus’ meekness. He was wronged like none of us have ever been wronged. Yet, he who surely had the right to speak, yet never did. But what are we to do?—Luke 14:11 says, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Humble ourselves before God.
But, this is impossible you say? Yes, for the natural man.
But the natural man will not inherit the kingdom of God. Jesus told Nicodemus—John 3:5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Matt 5:5 says that the meek shall inherit the earth, though, not the kingdom of God. But there will be a day when this old earth will be renewed. It will be replaced by a New heaven and a New earth (Rev 21:1-4).
It is this New Heaven and New Earth that the meek shall inherit. None of us shall deserve it. But we shall receive it from the good hand of God. We are poor in spirit. We mourn over our sins. We are meek in the presence of God and men. In all three of these, we have taken the spotlight off of ourselves and placed it squarely where it belongs—on our Savior Jesus Christ. To Him alone be the glory!